Leadership development: the role of developmental readiness, personality dispositions, and individual values

  • Mariam Shebaya

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Increased awareness of the crucial role of leadership as a competitive advantage for organisations (McCall, 1998; Petrick, Scherer, Brodzinski, Quinn, & Ainina, 1999) has led to billions spent on leadership development programmes and training (Avolio & Hannah, 2008). However, research reports confusing and contradictory evidence regarding return on investment and developmental outcomes, and a lot of variance has been observed across studies (Avolio, Reichard, Hannah, Walumbwa, & Chan, 2009). The purpose of this thesis is to understand the mechanisms underlying this variability in leadership development. Of the many factors at play in the process, such as programme design and delivery, organisational support, and perceptions of relevance (Mabey, 2002; Day, Harrison, & Halpin, 2009), individual differences and characteristics stand out. One way in which individuals differ is in their Developmental Readiness (DR), a concept recently introduced in the literature that may well explain this variance and which has been proposed to accelerate development (Avolio & Hannah, 2008, 2009). Building on previous work, DR is introduced and conceptualised somewhat differently. In this study, DR is construed of self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-motivation, proposed by Day (2000) to be the backbones of leadership development. DR is suggested to moderate the developmental process. Furthermore, personality dispositions and individual values are proposed to be precursors of DR. The empirical research conducted uses a pre-test post-test quasi-experimental design. Before conducting the study, though, both a measure of Developmental Readiness and a competency profiling measure are tested in two pilot studies. Results do not find evidence of a direct effect of leadership development programmes on development, but do support an interactive effect between DR and leadership development programmes. Personality dispositions Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Openness to Experience and value orientations Conservation, Open, and Closed Orientation are found to significantly predict DR. Finally, the theoretical and practical implications of findings are discussed.
Date of Award2011
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorVincenza Priola (Supervisor) & Olga Epitropaki (Supervisor)


  • management and executive education
  • self-awareness
  • self-regulation
  • self-motivation
  • competencies
  • learning

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